Protecting children from insect bites

  • Published
  • By Capt. Carissa Lueck, 6th Healthcare Operations Squadron pediatric nurse practitioner

It’s that time of year where insects and their pesky bites are increasing!

Children are especially susceptible, but with good prevention, we can minimize the irritation these pests cause.

One of the most effective prevention methods is the use of insect repellents containing DEET.

Parents often wonder about the safety of DEET in children. It has been tested and approved as safe in kids older than 2 months of age.

For children we recommend no more than 10% (2 hours of protection)-30% (6 hours of protection) concentration of DEET. However, care should be taken when using these products, the EPA recommends:

  • Use just enough repellent to lightly the skin.
  • Repellents should be applied to exposed skin, clothing, or both but not under clothing.
  • A thin layer can be applied to the face by dispensing repellent into the palms, rubbing hands together, and then applying to the face.
  • Repellent should be washed from the palms after application to prevent contact with the eyes, mouth, and genitals.
  • Do not use repellents over cuts and wounds or inflamed, irritated, or eczematous skin.
  • Do not inhale aerosols, spray them in enclosed spaces or near food, or get them into the eyes.
  • Do not apply insect repellent to the hands of small children, as it will inevitably be rubbed into the eyes.
  • Frequent reapplication of repellent is unnecessary.
  • The areas treated with repellent should be washed with soap and water once the repellent is no longer needed.
  • If both sunscreen and repellent are being applied, sunscreen should be applied first, and repellent should be applied after. It is better to use separate sunscreen and repellent products, as sunscreen generally needs to be reapplied more frequently than repellent.

For additional information, please contact the MacDill Pediatric Clinic at (813) 827-2273.